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ola-app-windows-newIn this day and age of Amazons and Flipkarts, it shouldn’t take much for a business to get the importance of customer experience.

Nevertheless, when we recommend certain features to improve the UX / CX of our customers’ products or platforms, we often receive pushback ranging from “when a customer takes a little more trouble to contact us, we’re assured that they’re serious about us” through to “if a customer really has a need, they’ll take the trouble to place the order on us”, and various arguments in between.

This tells me that there’s still a lot of confusion about the exact role played by CX in the buyer’s journey. So much so that some people still use poor CX to qualify leads and others, to underwrite their ration-officer like mentality.

So I thought I’ll illustrate the stages of the sales funnel where CX makes an especially sharp contribution and take the example of Olacabs to explain how better CX has resulted in more sales, at least from me.

Founded by a fellow alum from IIT Bombay, Olacabs is among the new breed of taxi aggregators that also includes UBER, Meru Cabs, Easy Cabs and so on.

mattress-purchase-cycleOlacabs recently launched a mobile app for Android, iOS and Windows. With just two clicks, the app lets customers book rides immediately or a day in advance. By eliminating the pain of dealing with a call center and removing the need to sit in front of a PC to book a cab, the mobile app takes Ola’s CX to the next level. This has driven more sales in two ways:

  • Every time I need a cab, I order Ola. While its competitor UBER has a mobile app – what the heck, UBER is a mobile app! – its lack of support for advance booking takes it out of my reckoning under most circumstances. MeruCabs, another Ola competitor, has only recently launched a mobile app for its GenieCabs subsidiary that operates in my city (Pune, INDIA)
  • Whenever I need to go to a new place for the first time, I no longer use my own car because of hassles related to parking and finding the way around unfamiliar places. I simply book an Ola instead.

To put this in marketing speak, better CX has resulted in more sales by

  1. Ensuring that the customer selects the brand (Ola) every time they use the product category (cab). This is the primary objective of a brand’s loyalty / customer engagement program
  2. Transforming the customer’s need (travel) directly to a brand choice (Ola) without passing through the interim stage of product category (cab). This is the wet dream of any marketer.

Therefore, CX plays a major role in the need-to-brand and product-to-brand stages.

As for stimulating greater need just because the brand makes it easier to fulfill, maybe that’s what Olacabs is aiming for by keeping its app “addictively simple“. However, it would take the company a few more things to crack this Holy Grail of CX:

  • Ensure that the cabbie can reach my pickup location without having to call me to ask for directions (while I’m busy in a meeting)
  • Issue paper receipts (its e-receipts are cumbersome for accounting in the context of my business use)
  • Display the running meter during the ride (the company claims that the app supports this feature but not a single cabbie I’ve asked has been able to show it)
  • Accept payment by credit card (Sorry prepaid mobile wallets don’t work for me!)

If Olacabs found a way to fulfill these wishes, who knows, I might turn into a travel freak just because it’s easy to order a cab from Ola!

PS: I’ve been using an online stock trading portal for over a decade. Maybe it’s only me but, lately, the need to be tethered to a computer to place orders has started feeling quite painful and evokes memories of standing in long queues to book train tickets in the good old days. As a result, my activity level on this portal has come down drastically in recent times. My Relationship Manager called me a couple of weeks ago offering a discount on brokerage if I went back to my previous trading volumes. I told him no amount of discount would help but promised to double my previous volumes if only he gave me a mobile app that let me trade on the go. Like any typical RM, he promised to pass on my feedback to his “management”. Let’s see what happens.

Ketharaman Swaminathan On December - 12 - 2014

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